Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Seattle
We trust our doctors and nurses to be focused and professional in providing healthcare to us. However, there are times when doctors fail to warn, diagnose, or monitor their patients. In some cases, these failures are so serious that patients suffer harm and require additional medical treatment.
Being misdiagnosed or improperly treated can have long-lasting, negative consequences for patients, and take a severe emotional and financial toll on their families. Some medical mistakes may even result in death.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence or malpractice, the dedicated Seattle personal injury lawyers at Pendergast Law, can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Call our offices at (888) 228-3860 for a free consultation.
Medical malpractice occurs whenever a medical professional (physician, nurse, phlebotomist, etc.) or medical institution (hospital, clinic, urgent care, etc.) acts improperly, or fails to act properly, resulting in harm to a patient. All medical professionals must demonstrate appropriate care given the situation to the patients they treat. This means that they must deliver a quality of care that is equal to what other medical professionals would provide in similar circumstances. When medical professionals provide substandard care that results in injury, and there are damages resulting from the injury, they are guilty of medical malpractice and can be held accountable for the harm they cause a patient.
If you experienced substandard care from a doctor or other healthcare professional that resulted in injuries and damages, you may be able to pursue compensation for your losses by filing a medical malpractice claim. However, since plaintiffs in personal injury cases have the burden of proof, you must be able to show that the medical professional failed to meet the appropriate standard of care and that you suffered harm as a direct consequence. This is why you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney to handle your claim.
Washington is a pure comparative negligence state. This means any tort settlement, including medical malpractice, is reduced in direct proportion to the claimant’s fault in the matter. This fact seldom comes into play in the instance of malpractice. It is the medical providers’ job to provide professional care and the patient’s responsibility to comply with professional instruction and recommendations.
The only instance where a medical professional would not be liable for malpractice is under the Good Samaritan Law in Washington. This law covers any medical professional or non-medical professional who renders aid at the scene of an emergency, is not compensated for the care provided, and did not act with willful or wanton misconduct or commit omissions constituting gross negligence. Good Samaritan Law, however, excludes employees who provide emergency care as a part of their regular course of duty or employment, like paramedics.
Joint and several liability rules also apply in Washington. So as long as the claimant has no personal fault in the medical malpractice, and all at-fault parties are included in the case, he or she may receive compensation from the defendants. The party’s actual percentage of fault has no impact on the amount he or she can be required to pay. This helps to ensure that the victim is compensated fairly.
In malpractice cases, each individual doctor who contributed to the malpractice, including surgeons, radiologists who misread tests, or anesthesiologists, can be specifically named in the lawsuit. In the case of a hospital employee who commits an act of negligence in the course of his or her regular duties, the hospital can ultimately be held responsible for the act of the employee.
There are a vast number of situations that can lead to a medical malpractice claim. Here are some of the more common cases:
- Failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis, or delayed diagnosis - The patient may have a viable medical malpractice claim if a doctor failed to diagnose his or her condition, misdiagnosed the condition, or diagnosed it too late. Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose may prevent patients from getting the treatment and care they need in a timely manner, therefore causing further harm.
- Failure to monitor – A medical professional’s obligation to a patient doesn’t end with diagnosis; it carries through until the treatment has run its course. This may include ordering blood work and reviewing lab results, keeping an eye on a patient during surgery, scheduling follow-up visits, etc.
- Improper treatment - If a doctor fails to treat the patient in a manner in which another competent doctor would, that would be considered malpractice. The patient may also sue for medical malpractice if the doctor diagnoses the condition properly and selects the proper course of treatment, but executes it improperly.
- Wrongful death – Malpractice causes many deaths that could have been prevented. For example, when a patient presents to the emergency room and the physicians fail to diagnose the symptoms of a heart attack; when a radiologist fails to notice cancerous growths on a test; or when all the indicators of a cerebral aneurysm leading to a stroke are misdiagnosed as a “migraine.” Patients can also lose their lives due to medication errors, like the case of Mary L. McClinton at Virginia Mason, who was injected with the wrong solution in the operating room and passed away 19 days later as a direct result. Untreated infections leading to a fatal case of sepsis; poor aftercare in the wake of a serious surgical procedure; discharging a patient too early and without proper instructions who then passes away – all of these may be grounds for a wrongful death claim.
In the state of Washington, you cannot recover punitive damages – only compensatory damages. Depending on the extent of your injuries and the circumstances that led to those injuries, you may seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages for any of the following losses:
- Present and future medical bills related to your injuries
- Permanent injury or disability
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional trauma
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Household and vehicle modifications to accommodate your injuries (wheelchair ramps and lifts, hospital beds, etc.)
- Costs of in-home care—permanent or temporary
- Hedonic damages for loss of joy of life (if your injury prevents you from doing something you formerly enjoyed, such as running, golfing, etc.)
- Lost wages (this includes time taken off for doctor appointments, physical therapy, etc.)
- Loss of career or earning capacity
- Costs of learning a new career
- Wrongful death damages, including:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering of the deceased before death
- Loss of future income
- Loss of benefits (such as medical benefits, pensions, retirement, etc.)
- Loss of affection, friendship, guidance, marital consortium, etc.
- Loss of household duties the deceased performed (childcare, property maintenance, bookkeeping, chores, etc.)
A: If you or a family member has suffered injury from a healthcare provider, the best thing to do is to consult an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. At Pendergast Law, we will review your potential claim free of charge, call us at (888) 228-3860.
Not every poor medical result is caused by malpractice. A healthcare provider is only negligent when he or she failed to perform within a reasonable standard of care that resulted in injuries and damages, and that can be effectively proved to a jury.
Our legal team can help you determine if malpractice has occurred.
A: Any medical professional or healthcare facility can be held liable for injuries caused by negligence. Examples of healthcare professionals and institutions include:
- Urgent care facilities
- Nursing homes
- Naturopathic physicians
A: Wrongful death because of a medical mistake is increasing. In the 1999 "To Err is Human" report, 98,000 deaths per year were estimated. Now, recent studies have concluded that number is closer to 500,000 deaths a year in U.S. hospitals because of medical malpractice.
Serious injuries and death result much too frequently from preventable medical errors. Of the medical errors for which compensation was paid out in 2014, the following outcomes were reported:
- 30% resulted in death;
- 18% caused significant permanent injury;
- 17% caused major permanent injury;
- 13% resulted in quadriplegia, brain damage, or lifelong care;
- 9% caused minor permanent injury; and
- 8% caused major temporary injury.
Q: What will it cost me to hire your firm to represent me in a Washington medical malpractice claim?
A: At Pendergast Law, our legal work is provided on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay us no fees until we recover compensation for you. We will consider your potential case free of charge, but we do not take all claims. We are selective in the claims we pursue due to the time and expense of litigation. If we take your case, we will represent you with no retainer fees, out-of-pocket expenses, or other upfront costs. We only get paid if we win your claim. Contact us to find out what damages could be pursued in your case.
The experienced Seattle medical malpractice attorneys at Pendergast Law, have the knowledge, skills, and resources it takes to prove these cases. We have helped many families receive the justice and compensation they need. Call (888) 228-3860 today.
A: In general, in the State of Washington, an injured person has three years from the time the negligence occurred in which to file a lawsuit, or it will be barred.
Call us for a free consultation(888) 228-3860
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